TIFF 2012 Review: THE LORDS OF SALEM Is a Slick Satanic Head Trip

Ryland Aldrich, Festivals Editor


It appears that Rob Zombie may have been studying up on his David Lynch lately as the metal-head-turned-filmmaker's latest is more head trip than it is horror. That's not to say The Lords of Salem doesn't have plenty of scares, but only a few of them come from cheap "gotcha" moments. This makes the film Zombie's most mature directorial work to date and a very enjoyable midnight entry.

The story revolves around Heidi, a popular radio DJ in modern day Salem played by Sheri Moon Zombie. Always on the lookout for new talent, Heidi finds more than she's looking for when an LP shows up at her door by a band called The Lords. The groovy tracks transfix Heidi and start to drive her mad with flashbacks from the town's haunting past.

Things get real freaky when Heidi falls under the spell of some decidedly witchy women and ends up effectively trapped in her apartment. The rich production design of the film gives the apartment set a carnival-esque feel that keeps the eyes darting about. The head-on wide-angle framing evokes Lynch and allows all sorts of interesting elements to fill the screen. The film does not look cheap and if nothing else, is certainly visually intriguing.

Unsurprisingly, the music is another strong aspect with the score by Zombie collaborators John 5 and Griffin Boice. The acting performances aren't the high point of the film, but Sherri does a decent job. She may not be at the top of a lot of casting directors' lists, but as she continues to star in her husband's films, her growing popularity may help her start showing up other places more often.

The Lords of Salem probably isn't the kind of film that will cross over for non-horror fans. However, there is plenty here to like. With a rich production value and some new and cool ideas, both fans of Zombie and those looking forward to seeing him grow as a director should find themselves pleased.

Around the Internet:
  • Jimi LaMort

    Garth is dead on. This movie is absolutely terrible without a single original idea in it. Zombie has never studied Lynch, instead he tries to copy the dream sequence from Ken Russell's The Devils except with VIC20 computer graphics. He also tries to copy Kubrick's The Shining hallways shots, but instead has one repeating tracking shot that appears about 10 times over the course of the film. The rest of it is just Rosemary's Baby.
    Sherri Moon Zombie has to be the worst lead i've seen in a film in a decade. Then there was the laughable monster costumes that recall the days of Ed Wood.
    The reason i am writing this is the absolute shock i am in after reading Twitch's shitty review of the fantastic new Neil Jordan vampire film BYZANTIUM, then you guys praise this shit with lines like "With a rich production value and some new and cool ideas,". WTF? I have to ask... who the fuck is writing this? Are you guys 12 years old?

  • I'm really holding out hope that Zombie has a good film in him waiting to emerge someday and I'm intrigued by the plot and setting, but I don't think I could stand his irritating wife in a lead role with a lot of screen time.

  • Garth

    Awful, awful, awful. Boring, no story, terrible acting. Garbage. Muddled.

    New and cool ideas? There's not a damn thing in the movie that's not recycled from something else, something better.

    Just terrible.

  • JOnastygram

    I did not know what to make of this right after the premiere... The 'Lords' sat with me for a few days... Score was awesome, cinematography was top notch, story was a little wacky... Can't wait to see the director's cut... Oh wait, that was the direcor's cut.

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